The Environmental Protection Agency has released its final Policy Assessment for the Review of the Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality Standards. In the assessment, agency staffers determined that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson would be justified in either keeping the current standard or tightening it to a level that would be essentially twice as stringent for much of rural America. The final policy assessment states the two standards are essentially equivalent in terms of health protection.
According to Tamara Thies, chief environmental counsel for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the good news is the policy assessment includes options rather than a stand-alone recommendation. The bad news is EPA can still choose to regulate dust in a way that would put a stranglehold on rural America. Thies says finalizing a rule that would result in heavy fines for creating dust by simply driving down a dirt road or herding cattle is unacceptable.
"Dust is a part of life in rural America. Cattle ranchers work hard to provide safe and nutritious food for this country and abroad," Thies said. "Finalizing a rule that would result in heavy fines for creating dust by simply driving down a dirt road or herding cattle is unacceptable. If EPA Administrator Jackson is serious when she says EPA is not working against agriculture, she needs to prove it. We urge EPA Administrator Jackson to keep the current standard."
Administrator Jackson has complained recently about so-called 'myths and misconceptions' about her intentions regarding this issue. NCBA urges her to put minds at ease by declaring unequivocally that EPA's actions will not result in a more restrictive regulation of dust in rural America. Also, Thies says this is the administrator's opportunity to reduce the mounting pile of burdensome and unnecessary regulations on agriculture.
U.S. Representative Kristi Noem, R-S.D., introduced, with bipartisan support, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011 that would block dust regulation by EPA in rural areas where state dust laws are in effect.
"We support Congresswoman Noem and the other members of Congress who have risen in support of farmers and ranchers against burdensome and scientifically unfounded regulations," said Thies.
EPA is expected to issue a proposed rule to regulate dust in August 2011.